Six on Saturday – W10/2021 – Taming the wild garden

The wet summer has spurred on growth and the garden turned into a wild jungle seemingly overnight. Taking advantage of a couple of cool afternoons during the week, I armed myself with secateurs, saw and a trowel and set about systematically weeding and trimming back the garden, border by border. The result was a huge pile of prunings which were reduced to a fine mulch by the lawn mower, and the weeds were disposed of. There is still a lot more taming to do, but as it’s now Saturday, it is time for this week’s Six on Saturday, where we share our gardening highlights of the day with others around the world, c/o The Propagator. Why not join us?

1. In a previous post I mentioned that the large Metrosideros in the top corner of the garden was dying back. Closer inspection revealed tiny holes in the stems. It was being destroyed by borer! It has been cut back to almost ground level, and many of the bromeliads surrounding it have also been removed.

Remains of the Metrosideros shrub that had a large borer infestation.

2. The large cleared area presented an ideal opportunity to replace the Metrosideros with a native rainforest tree, Buckinghamia celsissima (Ivory Curl) which is endemic to nothern Queensland. These trees are evergreen and their flowers are particularly beautiful.

Newly planted tube stock Buckinghamia, the Ivory Curl tree, in amongst some bromeliads for protection
Ivory Curl tree flowers

3. I have placed these protective plastic sleeves/tree guards around the native shrubs I have planted. The young plants are all tube stock and most are less than 20 cm high. These protective sleeves offers them some protection from environmental factors, and makes them highly visible so that they are not stepped on. These sleeves will stay in place until the young plant establishes and grows to a reasonable height.

4. I finally got around to dividing the elkhorn horn fern, Platycerium bifurcatum, that I was given about a month ago. We used a saw to separate individual plants and each of these ferns will be tied up onto a tree.

Large fern for subdivision
Eight smaller ferns separated using a saw
Notice the layers of dried leaf bases, which are ideal for retaining moisture.

5. Hibiscus grubs. Each year as autumn approaches these grubs can be found on Hibiscus plants through out the district. Most gardeners cut off the damaged leaves and dispose of the caterpillars.

6. Helenium autumalis – saving the best until last! This was the first Helenium plant I have grown, and what a success! It is just over 0.5 m high now and has started flowering. I’m thrilled!

Helenium flowers in various stages of development. The bees love them!

That is my Six for the week. I’m off to enjoy other Sixes via The Propagator. Links are provided in the comments section of his blog. Wishing you all a happy week!


  1. I always enjoy seeing all of your plants, many of which are new to me and all of which are beautiful! The helenium is one I just started growing in my garden last year, though. I love the way the flowers change through all of their stages of blooming.

  2. Ivory curls is quite attractive and I find the division and redistribution of your fern very exciting. You mentioned situating them on tree trunks. Will any tree do? How do you attach them? In your climate is any care required for these ferns outside?

    • The Ivory Curls are stunning! The elkhorn and staghorn ferns grow high up on trees, mainly on the stems. The staghorn ferns occur naturally in rainforests here in Queensland Australia. They can grow into huge specimens and they look magnificent! I will use either string or a strip of fabric to tie the fern to the tree. By the time he string/fabric rots the roots of the fern will be developed enough to hold the fern onto the tree trunk. The ferns growing on the trees are self sufficient as the get sufficient water from the rainfall and capture the rain that runs down the tree trunk. They are fascinating plants.

  3. I’m pretty sure it was Landsborough, just off the Steve Irwin Highway, that had lots of Buckinghamia as street trees. I got so excited to see them in full flower I nearly crashed the car and just had to stop to take pictures. The epiphytic ferns can be pretty stunning too. And there you are getting all excited about Heleniums. I suppose 12000 miles does give one a different perspective.

    • Thats exactly the reaction most have to their first seeing those Buckinghamia!! They are spectacular. I had a similar reaction when I first saw the endemic staghorn ferns. As for the Helenium, the intricate pattern made by the anthers in each open flower is what caught my eye. I have been fascinated by the development of the flowers and their opening.

      • After I sent the reply whizzing off to you, I queried myself as to whether it was the anthers that made the pattern on the Helenium. I took my trusty 10x and went to examine them closely…….it’s actually the stigmas that make the pattern!

  4. Am not surprised you are so happy with the Helenium, it’s gorgeous! Those ferns are fascinating, I was trying to figure out what the brown layers were, how clever of them to use the dead leaves for moisture. How do you attach them to the trees?

    • I’m thrilled to bits with the Helenium! I will try and save some seed from it and see if I can propagate some seedlings. The Ivory Curl trees are popular street trees in the area, and they are covered with flowers. I thought having one in the garden would be great! It’s only tiny, but hopefully will get growing again in spring.

    • The fern grows on trees, and uses the trees for support rather than being parasitic on the tree. In the rainforests in Queensland you often see them growing high up on the trunk of the tree. Both the staghorn and elkhorn ferns grow on tree trunks. They can grow pretty big, and both look amazing.

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